Bloomberg Businessweek
Ginni Rometty CEO IBM Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek
Ginni Rometty CEO IBM Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

Ginni Rometty CEO, IBM

The leader of America’s oldest tech company talks to Bloomberg Businessweek Editor Megan Murphy about the promise and threat of AI (and Watson), Charlottesville, and being a role model

Megan Murphy

Megan Murphy: Artificial intelligence. People may not know that IBM doesn’t call it AI. They call it “cognitive computing.” Tell us why that is.

Ginni Rometty: I have actually had to explain this to my husband as well, because he said to me, “Ginni, of all words, why cognitive?” It was really a very thoughtful decision. The world calls it AI. There’s so much fear mongering about AI. When we started over a decade ago, the idea was to help you and I make better decisions amid cognitive overload. That’s what has always led us to cognitive. If I considered the initials AI, I would have preferred augmented intelligence. It’s the idea that each of us are going to need help on all important decisions. I’m always reminded of an interesting statistic: When you’re asked what percentage of your decisions are right, what percentage would you get?

What would it be?

A study said on average that a third of your decisions are really great decisions, a third are not optimal, and a third are just wrong. We’ve estimated the market is $2 billion for tools to make better decisions. That’s what led us all to really calling it cognitive and getting through to people that, “Look, we really think this is about man and machine, not man vs. machine. This is an era—really, an era that will play out for decades in front of us.”

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